Section 110(b)(2)(D) of the TVPA (22 U.S.C. 7107(b)(2)(D)) requires a country that has been included on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years and has not been upgraded to “Tier 1 or 2” to be included in the following year’s report as “Tier 3.” This “automatic downgrade” provision resulted from a 2008 amendment to the TVPA that went into effect beginning with the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report). The governments of Tier 3 countries are those governments that do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so. Section 110(b)(2)(D) authorizes the President to waive application of this automatic downgrade for up to two years if the country merits a Tier 2 Watch List ranking and he determines and reports credible evidence to the Committees on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives that such a waiver is justified because – “(i) the country has a written plan to begin making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; (ii) the plan, if implemented, would constitute making such significant efforts; and (iii) the country is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan.” On September 20, 2010, the President delegated his waiver authority under this provision to the Secretary of State.

This memorandum provides the justification for a waiver from the automatic downgrade to Tier 3 for Cuba, Kuwait, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Swaziland for the 2018 TIP Report. It also provides the same justification for Hong Kong contingent on resolution of the split recommendations from J/TIP and EAP regarding the appropriate ranking for Hong Kong. Because each of the countries listed below has a written plan to begin making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement the plan, a waiver for each of the seven listed countries is justified under Section 110(b)(2)(D) of the TVPA.

Explanations of the Determinations for Each of These Seven Countries

Cuba

The Government of Cuba published its national anti-trafficking plan for 2017-2020 in February 2017, identifying six objectives: Strengthening prevention and identification; protecting victims; promoting research, consolidating and analyzing data, and disseminating such information; investigating and prosecuting traffickers and their accomplices; fostering coordination and cooperation between the government and society; and promoting international cooperation. The government designated various ministries to implement these objectives and dedicated personnel from relevant agencies.

Hong Kong

The Government of Hong Kong has adopted the Action Plan to Tackle Trafficking in Persons and to Enhance Protection of Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong. The plan establishes a framework for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts in terms of prosecution, victim protection and support, prevention, and partnership. The plan instructs the government to appoint dedicated law enforcement teams to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. The government will partner with NGOs and foreign government to facilitate the return of foreign victims, and extend shelter, medical and psychological support, and legal services to victims. In addition, the plan directs the government to provide training to frontline officers, prosecutors, and judicial officials. To prevent trafficking, the government will create and distribute materials to raise public awareness, and will strengthen protections for foreign domestic workers. The government has committed resources towards the implementation of the plan.

Kuwait

The Council of Ministers officially approved a national strategy to combat trafficking in February 2018, which commits to address prevention; protection; and local, regional, and international cooperation; and increase anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government funded Kuwait’s national strategy and tasked the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs to commence implementation. The government has committed resources towards the implementation of the plan.

Niger

The Government of Niger adopted the National Action to Combat the Trafficking of People, 2014-2018. The plan establishes a framework for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts in terms of prevention, prosecution, and protection. To prevent trafficking in persons, the plan directs the government to increase training and awareness for government officials and the general public. Through poverty alleviation programming, as outlined in the plan, the government began to reduce the risks of trafficking in persons within vulnerable populations. The plan instructs the government to refocus on trafficking investigations and prosecutions, including by increasing training to law enforcement officials and judges. In order to improve victim protection, the plan directs the government to standardize its victim identification and referral procedures for government officials and NGOs. In addition, as outlined in the plan, the government created an assistance fund for victims serving as witnesses in anti-trafficking trials. The government has committed resources towards the implementation of the plan.

Saudi Arabia

The Government of Saudi Arabia finalized a national anti-trafficking action plan in January 2017. For the second consecutive year, the government allocated SAR 36,000,000 ($9,600,000) to implement its 2017-2020 national action plan. Through specific activities and relevant ministries, the plan addresses monitoring, prevention, building government capacity, inter-ministerial coordination, effective law enforcement, and provision of protective services for victims.

Senegal

The Government of Senegal adopted the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, 2018-2020. The plan establishes a framework for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts in the areas of prevention, prosecution, and protection. To prevent trafficking in persons, the plan directs the government to organize sensitization campaigns on human trafficking and Senegal’s anti-trafficking law, as well as develop a communication strategy on trafficking and smuggling. In order to improve victim protection, the plan commits the government to operationalize a victims’ assistance fund and facilitate trafficking victims’ access to funds for reinsertion assistance. With respect to prosecution, the plan calls for the government to complete prosecutions against traffickers under the 2005 anti-trafficking law and convict traffickers. The government has devoted staff and funding to the anti-trafficking committee, which is responsible for implementation of the plan.

Swaziland

The Government of Swaziland has adopted the National Strategic Framework and Action Plan to Combat People Trafficking, 2018-2020. The plan establishes a framework for the government’s anti-trafficking efforts in terms of prevention, prosecution, and protection. To prevent trafficking in persons, the plan directs the government to increase training and awareness for government officials and the general public. The government calls for enhanced screening measures and incorporation of trafficking into the training curriculum for police recruits. The plan instructs the government to make legislative amendments to ensure victims are granted temporary or permanent residence permits. In order to improve victim protection, the plan directs the government to strengthen its victim-centered approach and pilot a shelter project providing victims with comprehensive care. In addition, the plan commits law enforcement to open informal channels of communication with border security officials in Southern Africa. The government has committed resources towards the implementation of the plan.

U.S. Department of State

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